Article of the Month

How TikTok Has Influenced Gen Z Style During Lockdown

Lois Freeman

‘I don’t dress cool so men will pay attention to me. I dress cool so thirteen-year-old girls will walk by me down the street and whisper to their friends: “did you see that girl’s outfit? She looked so f***ing cool”’. For Generation Z, Tiktok is the platform for a new era of fashion freedom. 

The Chinese video-sharing app with an addictively unforgiving algorithm has quickly become a Gen Z playground. Filled to the brim with fast, choppy videos expressing everything from advice regarding daily self-care to ‘Gordon Ramsey reacts’. There is a place for everyone, which I think is part of the appeal.

Users experiment with clothing without the restraint of public judgement or mainstream styles around them.

Users have built a zeitgeist of acceptance as clashing sub-cultures and aesthetics co-exist in an extraordinary cultural soup of conversation, exchange, and adaptation. Think cottagecore meets E-boy meets a guy baking croissants from the heat of his dashboard. Crazy, I know.

The software seems to have revolutionized the likes of Instagram, whose main ‘feed’ is solely comprised by posts from those you follow. This creates a kind of stale echo chamber in comparison to TikTok’s fresh and often unpredictable influx of information. 

The app has quickly become a tool for fashion and personal style exploration, as users experiment with clothing without the restraint of public judgement or mainstream styles around them. It has also offered a platform for those in lockdown to flex their creative muscles.

Talented home-sewers take to Tiktok to turn deadstock vintage clothing and scrap fabric into modern reworked pieces, often using the app as a vehicle to showcase work which they sell on Depop. Allowing them to not only promote their creativity but also the sustainable fashion movement.

Certain styles are prevalent on the app- ‘Y2k,’ short for ‘year 2000’ is one rooted in the technologisation of the late 90s and early 2000s. It is characterised by a sense of luxury and fun, imbued with pop culture references like Mean Girls and Britney Spears. It offers a resurgence in low-rise jeans, lace slips and (some would say extremely) mini bags. 

Sustainable fashion outlets like ‘andagain’, ‘House of Sunny’ and ‘Lucy & Yak’ have harnessed TikTok’s potential as an advertising platform, creating short, stylistic videos and capitalising on the app’s audience (41% of its users are aged between 16 and 24) to sell their products to the fashion-conscious young.

Brands can interact on a personal level with consumers, with the ‘duet’ feature allowing criticism and response to take place – both publicly and instantaneously. The app also holds space for those interested in fashion education, as creators like Declan Chan and ‘fashionboyy’ highlight prolific designers and runway collections both historic and current which have shaped the trajectory of fashion today. 

Tiktok has certainly triggered a new, unfiltered aesthetic exploration of style 

The app has also seen users celebrating fashion as an art form, with a popular sound “calling all fashion fanatics” to show their favourite clothing pieces in a cultivated personal wardrobe highlight-reel — often an eclectic mash-up of charity shop finds, vintage designer brands and sentimental treasures- there seems to be a real focus on creativity and building a unique, one-of-a-kind style. Users also engage in fashion artistically with videos showcasing #whatidwear in different scenarios, films and decades. 

Tiktok has certainly triggered a new, unfiltered aesthetic exploration of style which reveals how we use fashion for different occasions and to signal our complex and changing identities. It has also celebrated the fashion of different cultures- with a recent spotlight on Chinese Streetwear displaying the talent and creativity of people across the globe. 

So, despite its controversy, the app, with the many trends it has produced, has cemented itself into the collective consciousness of our generation. It has shown how fashion can be many things- creative, empowering and a force for sustainable change. 

Lois Freeman

Featured image courtesy of  Amanda Vick via Image use license found here. No changes made to this image. 

In-article images courtesy of  @paigesechrist and @hey_itshope via Instagram. No changes made to these images. 

Sources alph-lauren,ap p%20(BusinessofApps%2C%202019).

For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more,  follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved!

Article of the MonthBeautyFashionLifestyleNominationsStyle
One Comment
  • Amelia Burrows
    20 October 2020 at 15:32
    Leave a Reply

    Hi Lois, just wanted to let you know that I really enjoyed reading your article on how the nature of fashion consumption within Gen Z has shifted as of late due to varying different reasons. I enjoyed reading your writing as it explained the concept in great detail, kept me entertained and had a professional yet fun style of writing. I think the point you made regarding how TikTok has allowed for Gen Z to post their creative thoughts and ideas with little judgement from mainstream media is really interesting as I think this is what puts TikTok away from the rest of the social media platforms, with the creation of the for you page. I also thought it was interesting that you pointed out that the younger generations are seemingly more ‘fashion conscious’ and I believe this is part of the reason as to why TikTok is so successful, as this is its target audience, so by making it a hub for all things fashion, they are promoting their site to such a large number of users. As well as this, I think that it was a good fact to include that TikTok does cultivate individuality and uniqueness, as niche communities are now more than ever able to share their ideas and inspiration with people who may not be aware of these niches as of yet. Just wondering, what do you think would be the most significant impact that TikTok has had on fashion? Would you more argue it to be focused around the promotion of sustainable options, diy, niche communities or other? Thanks for your time and I loved reading your article!! I have a blog if you would like to go check it out  here’s the link…

  • Leave a Reply